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January 6, 2005 10:28 PM   Subscribe

Can you eat too many carrots? (mi)

For about 6 months now, I've been an enthusiastic juicer, starting off my day with a nice huge glass of carrot-celery-apple-beet-ginger-lemon juice (organic, of course). *SLURP*! Mmmmm, good! Not only is it delicious, it's crazy healthy, and it's a nice little project to deal with first thing in the am. (Everyone I know who has ever juiced complains about the clean-up factor, but I don't mind at all).

Well, about a month ago, a random clerk in a random store asked me if I ate a lot of carrots. Out of the blue. I had my hand outstretched at the time to receive change, and she seemed to think I looked a little - well, orange. At the time, I thought it was pretty amusing - a little badge of courage, so to speak. In fact, I still find it amusing, but the fact of the matter is that it's happening more and more. Yesterday took the cake - a complete stranger asked me if I had fallen asleep in a vat of tanning butter.

Now, I'm notoriously bad a noticing changes that happen incrementally, over long periods of time (e.g., gaining/losing weight, or turning orange), so I don't really notice any changes in my own appearance. And I feel great. And I loves me some carrot juice. I know there are extreme cases where people can eat toxic amounts of carrots, but I'm at about 5 or so carrots a day - with all the other ingredients, it's about a pint of juice. A lot, to be sure - but unhealthy?

Please advise me, o wise AskMe gods!
posted by fingers_of_fire to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're just fine.

PS - Google.

posted by cmonkey at 10:37 PM on January 6, 2005

here's a story about carrots...
posted by mildred-pitt at 10:38 PM on January 6, 2005

You have carotenosis. The good news is you just have to stop eating carrots to resume your normal hue.

For what it's worth, I first learned about it from Uncle Cecil (first link provided by cmonkey), and it's the only source I've ever found that claimed you can die of it (and even then, you apparently have to "work at it" -- damn that oblique Cecil). Some doctorly type can step in and let us know if it's ever really fatal, or you can see your own doctor, or you can back away from the carrots and start juicing blueberries instead. Good luck!
posted by melissa may at 10:42 PM on January 6, 2005

Yeah, but his juice has beets in it too. Don't they have like 10 times more carotene? Maybe it's the beets. Or rather, maybe it's MORE the beets than the carrots.
posted by luriete at 11:11 PM on January 6, 2005

If you have enough beets, your pee may start taking on a different colour of its own (10% chance) ;)
posted by madman at 12:03 AM on January 7, 2005

If the white of your eyes are turning orangish, please stop. Won't harm you but you probably look odder than you think - a carrot-juice crazy friend went through the same exact thing.

Tried half carrot half orange juice? It's awesome. Might be a way to cut down.
posted by dabitch at 1:38 AM on January 7, 2005

A brief search for <carrot death> on PubMed leads only to the following cases of carrot-related death:
  • a 6-month old infant dies after pureed carrot is introduced to the bloodstream intravenously (don't do that)
  • a 40-year-old woman dies from an air embolism after inserting a carrot into her vagina (don't do that)
  • a boy dying after eating contaminated "wild carrot"
  • children choking on carrots (mainly infants under 1 year)
Looks like you have nothing to worry about as far as immediate death goes, assuming that the carrot juice goes only into your mouth. Of course having too much Vitamin A in your system is not a good thing since it makes your bones more likely to fracture.
posted by grouse at 3:58 AM on January 7, 2005

the same exact thing happened to my aunt--going wild with the juicer, having a random storeclerk comment on her orangeness--everything
posted by lotsofno at 4:14 AM on January 7, 2005

May I also respectfully mention that you're losing out on a lot of fibre by juicing the heck out of all these nice veggies and fruits. Apple and carrot are especially good sources of fibre and will slow down the absorption of the sugar into your body. Eat them whole. :)

I know, you didn't ask. Sorry.
posted by madman at 4:31 AM on January 7, 2005

If you have enough beets, your pee may start taking on a different colour of its own (10% chance) ;)

Oh man, ain't that the truth. The first time I had a fresh juice with beet in it, my pee was pink and I thought for a second that I had some horrible condition.
posted by mkultra at 6:50 AM on January 7, 2005

If you have enough beets, your pee may start taking on a different colour of its own (10% chance) ;)
posted by madman at 12:03 AM PST on January 7

Not just your pee! (Or so I've heard.)
posted by evoo at 6:50 AM on January 7, 2005

My son hates anything green, and prefers the sweeter baby food veggies of carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes. Like you, he began taking on an orange tint. A week of forcing the green stuff though took the hue right out. Maybe skip a week and then go back at a lesser amount?
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:14 AM on January 7, 2005

Carrots have a LOT of sugar.

Think about it... How natural is it to eat like 40 carrots in one sitting?

I have a friend on the South Beach diet who says they are not allowed to eat fruit / carrot juice at all for this reason. I don't think it's a huge thing, but something to think about / be aware of.
posted by xammerboy at 7:54 AM on January 7, 2005


ditto on the beets affecting...not just pee.

/big fan of borscht
posted by availablelight at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2005

A funny story on Salon about raw carrot abuse.
posted by invisible ink at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2005

Beet eating induced non-yellow peeing folks *might* be low on iron or stomach acid.

"Test for Sufficient HCL
(Hydrochloric Acid)

There are some simple tests that may help determine if you or your child lack HCl. There is a hydrochloric acid reflex present on the bottom of the lowest rib approximately one inch lateral to the midline. If this area on the rib is tender to palpation there is a strong likelihood the person is deficient in hydrochloric acid, and would benefit from supplementation. Additionally:

1. Drink four ounces of beet juice on an empty stomach. If this turns the next urine red, suspect low HCl for there isn’t enough acid to break down the red pigment but, you could be iron deficient.

2. Check the pH of the urine drink four ounces of grapefruit juice, or a lemon orange juice mixture, on an empty stomach. Test the pH of the urine one hour later. If it is significantly more acid (lower pH number), suspect low HCl. The citric acid should have been broken down.

3. If you have heartburn or a too acid feeling, swallow a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. If it makes the symptoms worse you have more than enough hydrochloric acid. If the symptoms are relieved, you need HCl.

4. If it appears that you may need additional HCl, obtain a bottle of 10-grain HCl (with pepsin) in capsule form from the health food store; "Adults...take five...of such a product with a meal. If you do not suffer the usual burps and belches, you have proven in one hour that you have need for digestive support. If five...solve your problem, then try four the next meal, then three...you will finally have a recurrence of the old symptoms. Slowly increase the dosage each meal to find the dosage needed to prevent symptoms. Continue that dosage indefinitely." Indigestion by Doctor Kurt W. Donsbach.

You may need more than five, usually ten is enough for an adult; however, if your symptoms worsen, you are overproducing HCl. To aid in restoring vibrant health, strength, and normal weight, utilize that number of capsules of HCl with each meal. Be sure to take the HCl after the meal, so as to allow starch digestion to proceed for the first 45 minutes, and so as not to discourage the stomach from supplying all the HCl that it can. The Betaine can be discontinued once the reflex point is non-tender to deep palpation, or the other tests show no further need."

posted by Feisty at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2005

Beta-carotene's harmless. Your liver will convert it as-needed to vitamin A; the rest will build up in fatty tissues, as it is fat soluble, producing the orange pigmentation effect.

The glycemic index of carrots is 92; this reflects not only how much sugar is present but how available it is for absorption, with pure table sugar having an index of 100. Carrots, thus, are usually top of the 'do not eat' list for diabetics, just above things like candy bars. For folks who aren't diabetic there should be no problem.

Some folks who juice this much experience excessive flatus, as well; if you have this problem you'll probably notice.

The prior post about HCl appears to me to be the worst sort of pseudo-medical claptrap.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:29 PM on January 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

I have a friend on the South Beach diet who says they are not allowed to eat fruit / carrot juice at all for this reason. I don't think it's a huge thing, but something to think about / be aware of.

Yep, it's true. I started SB the first of the year, and it says no sweet juice. Blended vegetable juice is okay, though (V8, which has some carrot juice in it), but not carrots or carrot juice alone. Tomato juice is okay also. It does say that if you want to drink juice, you should juice it yourself and leave as much pulp in it as possible.

SB is a low-carb diet. But unless you want to do the low-carb thing yourself, I wouldn't worry about drinking vegetable juice, unless you're gonna give up white toast and candy bars and stuff first.

How am I doing? Glad you asked: So far, lost 8 lb. in 6 days. :- )
posted by Doohickie at 8:14 PM on January 7, 2005

just out of curiosity, why does table sugar (which I assume means sucrose) have a glycemic index of 100? Shouldn't glucose get that spot?
posted by clockzero at 8:23 PM on January 7, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the thoughtful comments! Feel free to look me up if you'd like to share a juice ;-)
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:12 AM on January 8, 2005

clockzero: yes, the glycemic indexes I'm finding on the web are calibrated to glucose. The one I remember from med school I think had sucrose at 100 (if memory serves), but IIRC glucose and sucrose were pretty close together.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:08 PM on January 13, 2005

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